One of the most influential and innovative bands of music history is undoubtedly the legendary Pink Floyd. Together with Roger Waters’ lyrical genius and passion for sound effects, Gilmour’s distinctive tones, and impressive solos, Syd Barret’s vision that guided the band’s foundations, Rick Wright’s tasty keyboard, and finally Nick Mason’s rhythm lead, Pink Floyd forged a sound that led to the most unique and iconic songs of rock history.
Formed in 1965, the band is considered a cultural icon of the 20th century and one of the most influential and acclaimed bands in music history. They gained great popularity thanks to their highly philosophical songs, sonic experimentation, innovative album covers, and elaborate live shows.
Pink Floyd’s music has always been a complex blend of various styles, mixing the essentials from psychedelic and jazz to classic rock and blues that led to a progressive genre that can only be described as Pink Floyd. One of the most recognizable elements of their unique style is the distinctive guitar work, first from the band’s creative force in early years, Syd Barret, later, David Gilmour, whose tone, riffs, and licks defined the most fertile decade of the band.
Pink Floyd’s songs are not easy to play entirely with their complex structures and nuances. But don’t let it scare you because many parts and riffs are straightforward and extremely enjoyable to play that can help you progress with your instrument at the same time!
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
Released in 1979 with the legendary The Wall album, Another Brick In The Wall is Pink Floyd’s only song that hit the no 1 in music charts. Composed by Roger Waters, the tune clearly reflects his ideology against modern society.
The song has a peculiar composing story. When the producer Bob Ezrin heard it for the first version of the song, he immediately insisted it would become a hit and suggested adding another verse and chorus.
But the band responded they don’t do hit singles and refused the revision. Nevertheless, Ezrin recorded a children’s choir and added a disco vibe. Finally, he persuaded the band and eventually released the song, which became the most known song of Pink Floyd.
The song has a rhythmic riff with barre chords and palm mutes. It also has a delicious intermediate-level solo with all the characteristics of a David Gilmour style playing with many bends, legatos, and short melodic sentences.
Although The Wall is mainly created with Roger Waters’ musical and lyrical genius, Comfortably Numb is one of the tunes composed with David Gilmour. It features an outstanding guitar solo that can be considered David Gilmour’s masterpiece.
The song is about the struggles of the main protagonist of the album and how it gets harder and harder every day, while the drugs offer him clarity and the comfortable numb feeling.
The song has elementary-level chords to play with the lyrics. David Gilmour’s first solo with a clean tone is melodic and bright, while the iconic second solo has a darker character with plenty of distortion.
The almost two-minute solo, which is played much longer in live performances, has all the characteristics of David Gilmour with amazingly composed musical sentences, bluesy influences, different types of bends, legatos, and double-stops.
It is not an easy song to play but not difficult either. Both solos are more than enjoyable to play and improvise on and a must to learn for every electric guitar player.
Wish You Were Here
After Syd Barret left the group because of his problems in 1968, he was still friends with the band members until his death. The Dark Side Of The Moon album was dedicated to him and his mental illness, while the Wish You Were Here album and the song itself was a tribute to his genius and madness.
With David Gilmour’s unforgettable riff and solos with his 12 string guitar and Waters’ sentimental lyrics, Wish You Were Here is one of the most beautiful and mellow tunes of Pink Floyd.
The song has a pretty straightforward intro riff and solo that is enjoyable to play with an acoustic guitar. The chords are all open chords, and the main and outro solo is beginner-friendly. With many slides and bends, the solos are great to practice the C major scale.
Hey You is a classic from The Wall album composed by Roger Water as most of the tunes in the album. It is an excellent song about the album’s protagonist, Pink, isolating himself mentally and physically from the outside world.
The song starts with the acoustic guitar arpeggios and vocals of Gilmour and Waters’ fretless bass. Mason starts playing the drums in the little solo partition in the middle of the song when Gilmour switches to a heavier distorted tone for the solo. The solo is like a crescendo, with the notes getting higher and higher pitched in every bar.
The song is suitable for intermediate-level players with short arpeggios and a solo.
Pink Floyd after Roger Waters was not as productive as before, but High Hopes is an exception. With lots of references to older albums and milestones of the band’s career, High Hopes tells the story of Pink Floyd, from its inception, through its outstanding success to its breakup and onward.
The song has a lovely melody that the song is built around, but the song’s highlight is undoubtedly the 3-minute slide solo of David Gilmour at the final of the song. Again, it is Gilmour at his best.
While the rest of the song is pretty straightforward with easy arpeggios and a basic double-stop melody, the extended final solo can be challenging for many players who are not familiar with the guitar slide technique.
Learning to Fly
After Roger Waters left the band, David Gilmour had to learn to lead the group, and he composed the tune Learning To Fly that describes the situation. The song became the highlight of the album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and became a Pink Floyd classic.
The song is relatively easy to play with 4 elementary chords; F, C, Am, and G. While the strum pattern is easy with constant up and down strums, you have to be careful with the dynamics, giving the accents in the correct timings.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
Another tribute to the former member and the founder of the band, Syd Barret, is Shine On You Crazy Diamond. The 26-minute masterpiece appears on Wish You Were Here album and is one of the most characteristic songs of Pink Floyd.
The song is divided into two parts and released as separate songs on the album. With a slow and psychedelic intro, great guitar solos, emotional lyrics, and fantastic sax solos, the song is one of the most appreciated Pink Floyd songs.
Well, you can’t wait for a 26-minute song to be straightforward to play, but the partitions are not that hard. With many Gilmour-style licks, bends, and legatos, it is a great song to learn for intermediate-level players.
One of the most celebrated songs of the legendary Dark Side Of The Moon album is Time. The psychedelic intro, Nick Mason’s drum solo later, and David Gilmour’s ripping guitar solo in the middle are all iconic partitions along with the deep and beautiful lyrics.
The song speaks about mortality and time. It is the only song credited to all the band members in the album.
It is a complex song to play with an outstanding guitar solo and chord embellishments in verses. The solo in F# minor scale is one of the most famous guitar solos in history, with great musical sentences.
One of the most famous riffs of Pink Floyd is from the tune Money from the Dark Side Of The Moon Album. With the fame and curse it brings, Roger Waters composed the song as an anti-greed complaint, creating the band’s first hit song that helped to make one of the legendary and most sold albums of rock history.
The song is based on the bass riff with the 7/4 time signature of Roger Waters. Later it shifts to a regular 4/4 rhythm for the iconic solo of Gilmour.
You can adjust the simple bass riff to the electric guitar to play throughout the song. The riff is great to get familiar with odd rhythms. At the same time, the intermediate level solo is highly melodic with a bluesy character that is great with many legatos, bends, and double-stops.
Us and Them
The longest song on the album Dark Side Of The Moon, Us And Them is quiet in tone and dynamics, with a prominent jazz influence. The song speaks about civil liberties, racism, and color prejudice, which divides people.
Us And Them have a unique jazz chord progression with smooth arpeggiated riffs. It also has two fantastic sax solos.
Although the main arpeggiated progression is straightforward, it has many nuances that make it more complex to play. You can also play the sax solo on your guitar.
Breathe is the second song from the Dark Side Of The Moon album. The song was Roger Waters’ idea and composed together with David Gilmour and Rick Wright. The slide guitar work of Gilmour throughout the song is impressive.
Breathe tells the story of an older man talking with a baby, telling him about the working life the baby will have to face and suggest him to overcome it by following whatever inspires him.
Mainly consisting of intermediate-level arpeggios with embellishments, Breath is a relatively easy song to play. You can try to strum the chords if you can not catch up with arpeggios.
Louder Than Words
The most recent song on the list is Louder Than Words from the 2014 album Endless River, which consists of unreleased projects from earlier Pink Floyd. It is the only song that features lyrics and vocals in the album.
The song features a traditional verse and chorus section brilliant solo with all the characteristics of a Gilmour lead guitar. The music video is also pretty impressive, with a man watching over the world in a boat sailing through the clouds.
The chords are elementary but include 3 barre chords which can be hard to play for beginners. The intermediate-level Gilmour solo is brilliant, melodic, and extremely enjoyable to play.
Welcome To The Machine
Welcome To The Machine is probably the darkest song of the 1957 album Wish You Were Here. Yet, with a brilliant arrangement of heavily processed synthesizers and guitar tones, the song is one of the most memorable Pink Floyd songs.
The song tells the story of a young musician who is about to get into the music industry, sealing a contract and selling his soul to the devil by exchanging his dreams for the desires of society. The tune criticizes the music industry and society, calling it the machine.
The song has a pretty easy guitar partition to play with two variations of elementary open chords, Em(add9) and C(maj7).
Have a Cigar
Much like Welcome To The Machine, Have A Cigar is about corporations and how they control their musicians and the music industry. Appearing as the third song from the Wish You Were Here album, the song is sung by their friend Roy Harper because Waters had a problem with his voice, and Gilmour didn’t feel comfortable singing it.
The song has a solid rocky riff with double-stops and slides along with relatively easy chords on verses and cool embellishments in between. It also features one of the most rhythmic and technical solos of David Gilmour.
Like many of Pink Floyd’s songs, Have A Cigar is an intermediate-level song to play but needs a touch of experience to catch the nuances to make it sound great.
On the Turning Away
On The Turning Away is a lesser-known tune from the band’s first album without Roger Waters, A Momentary Lapse Of Reason. The song is about how people turn away from the weak and the weary, despite the fact that suffering is such a big problem in the world.
As a power ballad, the song is one of the most sentimental and melancholic songs of the band. It features one of the best-composed guitar solos of all time, with Gilmour feeling every note.
The song has many chords and variations, but they all have comfortable and easy positions to play and change between. The melodic solo is not that challenging, but you have to play the bends properly to make it sound good.
In The Flesh
In The Flesh is the powerful opening song of The Wall. Composed by Roger Waters, the song has a high and dynamic sound with a rock-solid intro followed by a softer chorus. The guitar melodies are dark and robust, which gives its character to the song.
The tune tells the protagonist of the album, Pink, who is on drugs and hallucinates himself as a fascist dictator.
The song is beginner-friendly with easy arpeggios and straightforward guitar melodies. The main riff is delightful to play with bends, palm mutes, and its melodic structure.
Echoes is a 23-minute masterpiece from the album Meddle. It is one of the first songs composed by all of the band together. In Roger Waters’ words, the song tells about “the potential that human beings have for recognizing each other’s humanity and responding to it, with empathy rather than antipathy.”
The track is a mix of long instrumental passages, and vocal patches are a precursor to the career-changing The Dark Side of the Moon. There is also a jam section at the final of the song where the band improvises on the live versions. The live version of the song in Pompei is a must-watch for every Pink Floyd fan.
Echoes is an impressive masterpiece with every note and detail well-thought. The verse has many barre chords that can be challenging if you are a beginner.
The guitar riffs and solos won’t be hard for many experienced players, but as most of Pink Floyd’s songs, nuances such as bends and accents of the musical sentences should be taken with care to play the song correctly.
Mother is an unconventional song about mothers from The Wall. The song dives deep into the childhood of the protagonist, Pink, who had an overly protective mother ruining his character.
The song has a change from a reasonably calm rhythm to a louder one, expanding its instrumentation from an acoustic guitar solo and vocals to; harmonium, piano, drums, bass, vocal harmony, and electric guitar.
Mother is a relatively easy song to play with elementary chords and strumming patterns and a straightforward melodic solo. As a result, the song is perfect for playing for novice players.
The Great Gig in the Sky
The Great Gig In The Sky is one of the few songs composed by only Rick Wright, the band’s keyboardist. It is a song inspired by sadness and the imminence of death, emphasized by the lead voice of Clare Torry.
The song mainly consists of Clare Torry’s incredible vocal performance and Rick Wright’s accompanying piano. But Gilmour joins time to time with his slide guitar.
You will need a slide to play this song. However, it is a great riff to get familiar with the slide guitar and even improvise.
Fearless is the third song from the Meddle. It is also known as a Liverpool football club chant; that is why there are Liverpool fans singing You’ll Never Walk Alone at the end of the recording.
The slow, acoustic rhythm is due to the fact that David Gilmour and Roger Waters composed the song with the guitar tuned to Spanish in the G major scale. It is a smooth and soft melodic song, making it a great song to play on acoustic guitar.
The song is played with a GGDGBB tuning and is a simple song to play due to the comfortable position of the chords thanks to the tuning. You can also play the basic chord embellishments to make it sound richer.
Run Like Hell
Run Like Hell is the hit from The Wall, mostly known for its driving, dance-oriented, percussion-filled rhythm. Written by Gilmour and Waters collaboration, the song is about an alienated and bitter rock star, during a hallucination in which he becomes a fascist dictator and turns a concert audience into an angry mob.
The lyrics were inspired by a congress of Hitler, and the song features a disco beat with a palm-muted rhythmic intro and later triad chords.
It is a less complex tune with a basic intro and verse with lyrics. Ideally recommended for beginner Pink Floyd fans. You can add some reverb and delay to your clean tone to make the triads sound better.
One of These Days
The first song of the Meddle album, One Of These Days, is built around the bass riff Roger Waters played through an echo unit. Gilmour describes the song as the most collaborative effort of anything they ever did.
The song has a very distorted guitar played by Gilmour and double bass played by Gilmour and Waters.
The guitar plays chords in each bar, letting them ring for long. It is a beginner-friendly song but sounds much better when played as a duo. The second guitar can imitate the bass section to catch the original sound.
The closing track of Dark Side Of The Moon, Eclipse, is known for its closing lyrics; “There’s no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact, it’s all dark.” It was written by Roger Waters and has reprises of some sections from Breathe.
The song in D major key can be played with 5 open chords and a barre chord. It is played with basic arpeggios and is reasonably easy to learn.
Brain Damage is the famous Pink Floyd tune from the Dark Side Of The Moon album. It is mostly played back to back with Eclipse and is about insanity, which the band is more than familiar with due to the founder of the band, Syd Barret.
The song is great, with a mellow melody and energetic tone. In lyrics, there are many references to the band’s story. For instance, the line “And if the band you’re in starts playing different tunes” refers to Syd Barrett’s propensity for playing the wrong song on stage in his final days with Pink Floyd.
The song is played with arpeggiated chords, fairly easy for the players who have experience with arpeggios and fingerpicking.
Pink Floyd’s first single, Arnold Layne, was created by Syd Barret about a crossdresser who steals bras and panties from clotheslines. With its bluesy character and controversial lyrics, the song received significant attention when it was released in 1967.
It is not a hard song to play with many power chords and chord embellishments. If you play the song with your friend, the second guitar can strum the chords, making the song sound better.
See Emily Play
See Emily Play is another song from early Pink Floyd, written by Syd Barret. It is about Emily Young, known in the UFO Club as the psychedelic schoolgirl. The song perfectly reflects the progressive and psychedelic character of the band.
See Emily Play is the second release of the band. Syd Barret used a Zippo lighter to create the slide guitar effect on the song.
The song features the main riff played with a slide guitar, chord strums on the verse, and a simple solo with many bends. It is a good song to learn if you want to get familiar with the slide guitar technique.
Coming Back To Life
Coming Back To Life is a tune from the late Pink Floyd album The Division Bell. It was written by David Gilmour for his wife, Polly.
The song is remembered with the synth work and the quiet guitar solo in the intro section, followed by two great guitar solos later.
The track is great to add some classical guitar work of Gilmour to your repertoire. It is perfect for intermediate-level players with a basic chord strum section and three great solos. The solos in C major scale features many techniques like bends, slides, scale runs in different positions, and Gilmour’s unique musical sentences.
Pink Floyd is not known for their funky riffs with heavy tones, but this song is an exception. Young Lust, perhaps not the most famous song of The Wall but with Roger Waters’ chugging bassline and David Gilmour’s spacey guitar riff, is a song to remember.
It is one of the few songs that Pink Floyd composed with hard rock genre characteristics. With generously distorted guitar tones and a quick tempo, it is a great song to play.
The riffs, solo transitions, and solos of the songs are all suitable for experienced players with many bends and legatos used. The pinched harmonics and the time signature is crucial to play the song correctly.
Sheep is the most dynamic Pink Floyd song from the 1977 album Animals. Written by Roger Waters, the song is on the metaphor of sheep, which represents the mindless people who follow the herd and is one of three animals represented on the album along with dogs and pigs.
The 10-minute song has a complex structure with many partitions and transitions. The rhythm guitar sections are played with power chords with a funky rhythm. They are upbeat and fast licks, typical of Gilmour.
Bike is a tune from the earlier Pink Floyd album Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. It was written by Syd Barrett, who was the founder and the pioneer of the band’s unique tone.
The song portrays a girl traveling around with her bike and her mouse. The final section comprises musique concrete, a noisy compilation of raw recordings of different objects.
The song has elementary chords, but they are played as barre chords which can be challenging if you are not comfortable with the barring technique.
There are not many bands in music history who achieved creating a unique sound and genre. However, pink Floyd is undoubtedly the pioneer of its genre with its rich arrangements, profound guitar solos, concept albums, insane live performances, and incredible success capturing human experience, especially about nihilism and futility.
Either it is played by Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, or David Gilmour, the guitar work is more than incredible. In addition, each of the players has been able to inject their personality into the band with their soloing approaches.
But of course, the most memorable of them is David Gilmour, with his ability to use a basic pentatonic scale to create musical sentences complete with emotion. On the albums like The Wall and Dark Side Of The Moon, Gilmour’s solos extend to the far reaches of space before getting disappeared. A perfect feeling, adding to the albums’ idea of empty space and isolation.
There is, without a doubt, a lot to learn from a band like Pink Floyd as a musician and a guitar player. And the best way to do that is to grab your guitar and start playing some of their outstanding tunes.
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